NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Graduate student offensive lineman Samuel Cooper of the Merrimack College football team was selected to play in the 96th 2021 East-West Shrine Bowl, as announced by game organizers on Tuesday.
Due to the challenges presented by COVID-19, the East-West Shrine Bowl will not be played, but Cooper and the other selections will still participate in virtual training as well as informational drills will NFL coaches and members of the NFL Operations staff.
The selection is a significant honor for Cooper as he aspires to play professionally. Currently more than 100 of the student-athletes who played in last season’s East-West Shrine Bowl are members of NFL rosters. Cooper is also the second Merrimack football player ever to be selected to the event, which dates back to 1925 as the nation’s oldest college football all-star game. Shawn Loiseau ’12 played in the 2012 game, and the former All-American went on to play in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.
“Sam had a tremendous playing career here at Merrimack, but his impact on our Program was much greater than just his production on gameday. He was an elite student, tremendous leader (Team Captain), fantastic teammate, and just a great ambassador for Merrimack Football and the college,” stated head coach Dan Curran. “Being selected to the East West Shrine Game is an unbelievable honor and one that Sam has without question earned. We are all extremely proud of Sam and look forward to seeing him compete on the biggest stage against the best players in the world.”
“It’s a huge blessing to be selected to this prestigious game. I know football is a big part of this game but more importantly the ability to impact “kids” at the Shriners hospital. I thank God for giving me this opportunity to put a smile on their faces in a time of need as well as represent Merrimack Football!” Cooper said. “To be able to represent this program that stood by me in good times and bad times is a blessing. It’s special to me because it shows my teammates that we can strive for excellence and achieve dreams!”
The East-West Shrine Bowl benefits Shriners Hospitals for Children and its mission to provide excellent care for children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate, regardless of the families’ ability to pay.
After transferring to the program from the University of Maine, Cooper appeared in 16 games for the Warriors in 2018 and 2019. The Warriors’ starting left guard and Team Captain last fall, Cooper was part of a Merrimack offense that was one of the best in the Northeast Conference. Cooper’s blocking helped the Warriors to rank second in scoring offense (31.0 points per game), and third in total offense (368.3 yards per game), rushing offense (162.3 yards per game) and passing offense (206.0 yards per game).
Academically, Cooper was selected to the Hampshire Honor Society with a 3.31 cumulative GPA as a marketing major at Merrimack. He earned his undergraduate degree last fall, and currently boasts a 4.0 graduate GPA as he works towards his master’s degree in management.
Cooper has also been selected to the Hula Bowl, which is currently set to be played on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 9:30 p.m. EST in Honolulu, Hawaii. When these two selections, Cooper has now earned spots in two of College football’s top-three all-star games.
𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟭 #𝗦𝗵𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗕𝗼𝘄𝗹 𝗦𝗲𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 🏈January 12, 2021
The Hula Bowl is excited to announce that Samuel Cooper from Merrimack College has ACCEPTED to come and play at the 2021 Hula Bowl in Hawaii!! #Hawaii #NFL #merrimack #showcase #CollegeFootball #merrimackcollege pic.twitter.com/35JnWUJ22K— Hula Bowl (@Hula_Bowl) January 13, 2021